West Coast Premiere
Directed by Alain Tasma
Written by Emmanuel Carrere. With Anais Demoustier, Laurent Stocker and Sammy Seghir.
France, 2010. In French with English subtitles. 113mins.
Co-Sponsored by Bill Falik and Diana Cohen
By now, we’re all familiar with the tale of the hero-teacher who takes a classroom of indifferent students and transforms them into academic powerhouses. Broken, set in a school in the low-income suburbs of Paris, substantially diverges from that storyline. Instead of watching kids transformed by attention from a caring teacher, we’re taken on a poignant journey into the margins of French society. There we encounter teenage students descended from North and West African immigrants who see little point in completing their education because they expect upon graduation to either land in some menial position or jail. At the outset, we meet Anna, an idealistic young Jewish teacher just starting out, and Lakdar, a student in Anna’s class who has a gift for drawing. Early notes of optimism fade, however, as Anna fails to gain the respect of her students and eventually comes to resent them. In the meantime, Lakdar is forced to confront the fact that a bungled medical procedure for an injury to his drawing hand will deprive him of the career as a cartoonist that he had hoped would be his ticket out. While Anna contemplates the shame of admitting defeat and quitting, Lakdar strikes out at those he blames for his misfortune with tragic consequences for all involved.